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New Left Review I/23, January-February 1964


Henry Lester

‘The Car Makers’

The Car Makers. Graham Turner. Eyre & Spottiswoode, 25s.

This survey covers most aspects of the motor industry: history, organization, employment conditions, Union action, technical advance, place in the world market, expansion plans. Turner is critical of managements for not creating conditions for workers’ ‘loyalty’ and critical of the workers for being ‘materialistic’. He is rather naive—for instance, his worried description of Communist strength at Ford’s ends: ‘Perhaps widespread lack of interest in religion has something to do with the mild assessment of Communism at Dagenham’—but his book contains willy-nilly much of interest to socialists. Among the points that come out clearly are: 1. The advanced stage of integration between component producers and car manufacturers; 2. The appalling work conditions on the assembly line (‘It’s just another form of Yogism—they automate your mind as well.’) 3. The expansionism of the industry, with all that entails vis-a-vis the need for overseas markets, the grave danger of over-production, the likelihood of still further integration. There are many odd snips of information: half the cars sold in Britain go to company fleets and these fleets are disposed of regularly by large second-hand dealers who disperse them round the country; collaboration is in embryo between car and oil companies—branded oil is advertised on filler caps, etc. The Car Makers is exactly the kind of book which ought to be written by socialist journalists. We badly need lucid accounts of Britain’s key industries. Meanwhile, socialists would do well to read this book. Henry Lester

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Henry Lester, ‘'The Car-Makers'’, NLR I/23: £3
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